With budgets stripped back significantly in most sectors in 2011, marketing departments increasingly have to achieve more from less.
Companies use creative, digital, PR, event and other specialist agencies to help deliver innovative, lead generating marketing campaigns. But often these working relationships are fractious and doomed to failure because time hasn’t been taken to crystallize expectations, processes and procedures.
If you really want to foster a partner relationship with an agency, you need to create an environment and provide the resource and information to give the relationship the best chance of success.
Borne from experience, here is a top ten countdown of where to focus to drive improved collective performance.
1. Know what you want. Provide a written brief. There is no other way of definitively marshalling your thoughts. If you can’t, you have no right to expect an agency to deliver.
2. Run a pitch only if you have the work to award. Too many companies use the pitch process inappropriately either for self aggrandizement or to generate ideas that the in-house team can then implement. Worse still, pitches are used when the scope of business is not in proportion to the investment on the part of the agency.
3. Value their expertise. Just like you in your chosen marketplace, good agencies have honed their service offering, often have good contacts and have worked to develop enduring third party supply relationships to offer a full service.
4. Respect ‘the going rate’. Consequently, there is a financial value of investing that time to ensure your business is competently and diligently supported. Focusing too much on the price risks your credibility in the negotiation and your reputation in the longer term.
5. Commit. Sign NDAs and contracts and then ‘open up’. Formalise the working procedure and then forget about them. Host the agency at your offices and lead immersion sessions to bring them up to speed. Few will understand your business and market better than you – despite their lofty claims.
6. Agree deliverables and metrics at the outset. Working towards commonly agreed goals and set objectives makes it easier to measure effectiveness after the event.
7. Nominate ‘go-to’ contacts who are always available to input, feedback comment, recommend and cajole client side contacts to get things to get done.
8. Build socializing time into your relationship. Teams that enjoy downtime together are more likely to work better.
9. Encourage and reward creative thinking.
10. Feedback on performance… and take agency feedback to improve the relationship.